Democratic leaders in the Senate are digging in against House Republican demands that lawmakers return to Washington to broker a year-long tax cut compromise.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent a letter on Wednesday to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urging him to reconvene the House and approve the Senate’s bipartisan compromise “as soon as possible” to avoid a middle-class tax increase and the expiration of unemployment benefits and the Medicare "doc fix" on Jan. 1.
"As the Senate vote made clear, there is no reason for this to be a partisan issue," Reid wrote.
House and Senate leadership aides battled Wednesday over the status of the Senate bill.
Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said in a tweet that the Senate's two-month extension was sent back to the upper chamber by the House on Tuesday.
The "Senate bill came to House. House rejected it and sent it back to Senate. That's where it currently is," he wrote.
But Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said House Democrats introduced the Senate bill as separate measure that could be considered in the House.
Adam Jentleson, Reid's spokesman, tweeted that "there is nothing stopping the House from voting on the Sen compromise today, tomorrow or whenever they wanted to."
The House voted Tuesday to disagree with the Senate-passed payroll tax cut extension bill and call for a House-Senate conference to sort out differences between the bills that the chambers have passed.
House Republicans weren't getting any help from their counterparts in the Senate as GOP aides told CNN that House Republicans are "on their own" on the payroll tax bill.
GOP leadership aides said House Republicans turned a key issue "on its head," leaving them with "zero leverage."
Meanwhile, House Republicans continued pressing the Senate to take action and return to Washington for negotiations.
At a press conference, GOP leaders called on the Senate and the White House to negotiate and suggested that the differences between the two chambers could easily be bridged.
Boehner and Cantor both reiterated that they believed a deal could be struck quickly.
In his letter, Reid reminded Boehner that the Senate’s compromise legislation passed with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority and claimed it was negotiated at the Speaker’s request.
“As you requested when we met last Wednesday, Senator McConnell and I worked together to find this common ground," Reid wrote.
"Once the House of Representatives acts on this immediate extension, we will be able to sit down and complete negotiations on a longer extension," he said.
"But because we have a responsibility to assure middle-class families that their taxes will not go up while we work out our differences, we must pass this immediate extension first.”
— Pete Kasperowicz contributed.